Know Your Own Value

posted 1/8/21 -- Isaias de Jesus learned to never give up on his dreams thanks to LCCAA’s Youth Services program.

Isaias, now 20, moved to Ohio from Puerto Rico nine years ago. As a native Spanish speaker, he encountered somewhat of a language barrier in school. At Lorain High School he was behind in several classes and in danger of not graduating when a family member told him to go to OhioMeansJobs and apply for youth work experience.

Being connected with LCCAA and Youth Coordinator Bobby Taylor turned everything around.

“The program helped me out in a lot of classes I was behind in,” he said. “I would have flunked without Bobby.”

LCCAA’s Youth Services program provides work experience, primarily in the form of community service, to income eligible men and women ages 16 to 24. The program also includes mentoring, both one-on-one and in groups and much more.

Taylor recalled that Isaias was so far behind in classes that when Lorain City Schools shut down due to COVID-19, he wasn’t listed as a senior. Seniors were provided with technology by LCS so they could complete their high school career.

“We worked with him to get him technology and find an alternative path to graduation,” Taylor said, noting that Isaias graduated this past spring.

The former football player said working with LCCAA at various food distributions has been eye-opening. Working now at Second Harvest Foodbank of North Central Ohio, he sees a lot of people impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“It touches you, because a lot of people don’t have the same opportunities as you do,” he said.

Now, Isaias is taking classes at Lorain County Community College toward an associate’s degree. He plans to become a Physical Therapy Assistant, something he has wanted to do since he was a young child. His aunt broke her leg, he said, and credits her physical therapist with her mobility to this day.

In the meantime, he is working at Second Harvest and as a driver for Doordash. He worked a few other places over the summer to earn money for his car, Taylor noted, recalling lessons about having multiple ways to earn income. Isaias is also encouraging family and friends to join the program.

“This is a really great program,” he said. “They’re going to help you a lot. They’ll always check up on you. Take the opportunity. Anything is possible.”